After nearly 1,000 people were stopped for speeding last year, law enforcement tightened a traffic driving law this summer.
For the second year in a row, Minnesota authorities have begun tough measures to discourage drivers from street racing and reckless driving.
It is part of the Minnesota State Patrol’s Highway Enforcement for Aggressive Traffic (HEAT) initiative, which it has been conducting since February 2022.
According to Bring Me The News, police officers stopped nearly 2,000 vehicles related to street racing last year and stopped over 800 of them for speeding, local police said at a news conference in May.
Apparently 167 of the drivers were arrested as a result of the traffic stop and 66 of those arrests involved driver impairment.
The 2023 crackdown, which began in May, means those caught knowingly driving their vehicle in an unsafe manner could face 90 days in jail and up to $1,000 in reckless driving fines.
If a passenger, another motorist or a pedestrian is seriously injured as a result of dangerous driving, the charge can be escalated to a gross administrative offence.
A felony carries up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $3,000 — in certain cases, you could even face a felony, local attorneys from Appelman Lawfirm say.
“Street racing and crossing robberies are not innocent acts. They are endangering lives, causing major neighborhood disruption, and damaging private property and public roads,” said Col. Matt Langer, chief of the Minnesota State Patrol, in a prepared statement.
“The communities are fed up. We are committed to working with our partners to keep Minnesotans safe and send the message that street racing will not be tolerated.”
The project’s focus is on “high-intensity patrols that focus on the deadliest traffic violations.”
In fact, police helicopters regularly fly over the state’s two largest cities, Minneapolis and Saint Paul, to combat the major road problem.
Langer has expressed that air support has proven “absolutely crucial” in combating street racers and dangerous driving in recent years.
“Over 90% of the time a helicopter or plane is over a chase scene, the driver ends up in jail without the chase taking place on the street,” he said.
Minnesota law enforcement launched a targeted effort against street racing in 2021 and say the problem has since decreased.
While less prevalent, data shows that reckless driving caused by speed racing is still more common in the area.
“Street racing continues and, in some cases, has become more aggressive as competitors drive faster in more populated areas,” the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said.
This year alone, there have been multiple incidents where street racing has resulted in interactions with local police in the state.
For example, earlier this year a police officer stopped a vehicle for a weaving mill and learned that a 14-year-old was driving, reported Bring Me The News.
The teenager told law enforcement that he was on his way to a car meetup at Brooklyn Center and that six other minors, ages 14 to 17, were in the vehicle with him.
The police officer called one of the children’s parents to pick them all up.
In another case earlier this year, another police officer stopped a driver for driving 103mph in a 60mph zone.
The driver was reported for speeding and careless driving before being stopped again for the same offense by another police officer shortly after receiving the report.